So many social enterprise solutions sing the tired refrain: "It works just like you do." We've been hearing it since the advent of Lotus Notes in the late 1980s, and while it all looks good on paper, nobody's really answered the promise. While SocialCast doesn't *do* everything end users do (like manage workflows, for example), it is exemplary because it takes what it does (social) to the end user's existing systems.
SocialCast initially launched two years ago. After two rounds of venture funding, it's up to 30 employees, some of them from Facebook and MySpace, but some from enterprise companies like Oracle and Disney. That pedigree is becoming more familiar these days. Citigroup just hired Frank Eliason, the man behind Comcast's success using Twitter for customer service issues.
Until now, SocialCast has been more of a destination service for private corporate social networks; that is, another site to collaborate around activity streams. Although users could link to services like Delicious, Twitter and YouTube, the only real enterprise integration happened through e-mail (Gmail, Lotus Notes and Outlook). For an in-depth look at the Socialcast platform, watch my colleague David Berlind's video ReviewCam here.
Meanwhile, a host of social software aimed at business environments all began fighting for mindshare before the typical CIO even had a Facebook page. Software like Cisco Quad and Salesforce.com's Chatter, which was built right into the hosted CRM service, or dozens of other stream-based services, portals, Wikis and collaboration environments. Combined with established and evolving solutions like Jive, Sharepoint, Yammer, SocialText and Box.Net, all of these technologies kickstarted a wave of unparalleled fragmentation and choice.
The difference is, most of these require users to "live" in the software somehow. Even Chatter's context (being part of a salesforce) is merely a slice of an enterprise population.